Disturbing new figures reveal that police escorts are required for ambulance crews to attend incidents at over 1,400 homes in England.
The North West is considerably the most dangerous area for ambulance crews, with over half (756) of the flagged addresses being situated in the region:
Every day, around 8 paramedics are seriously attacked, with assaults soaring by 36% in only 5 years. Injuries include stab wounds, burns, fractures, concussions and spinal cord damage. Last year, 2,800 ambulance staff were attacked on the job. In Yorkshire, 69 ambulance workers report being sexually assaulted; 47 more were kicked, 36 spat on, 17 bitten and 24 slapped.
One such incident was repeated by paramedic Mike Duggan; a drunk man spat at him through an ambulance window when he was working a job in Birmingham. The man, who was later arrested, also threatened to “knock him out”, Duggan recalled:
We are just in a position to help. I go to work as a paramedic and I deal with everybody the best way that I can… This guy just kept telling me to go away and tried to get in my car. He continued to be abusive while spitting and then raised his fist and told me to f*** off.
An ambulance crew in London were assaulted by a man angry at how they were parked when attending to an OAP – one was attacked and another was left “shaken”. A second ambulance had to be called in, as the crew were so disturbed they could not successfully finish their shift.
Martin Flaherty, managing director of the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives told the Sun that the rise in violence was due to a concurrent rise in alcohol and drug-related incidents:
Each service has its own strategy for protecting staff against violence and aggression and those plans are detailed and comprehensive. But almost none of the perpetrators receive custodial sentences when they are prosecuted for assaulting our staff.
Rehana Azam, national secretary of the GMB union, blamed the figures on government cuts:
These terrifying figures underline that ambulance workers, along with all those who work in the emergency services, are forced to work under an increased threat of violence. Cuts in funding mean our ambulance workers are more likely to be working alone. Cuts to police services mean back-up isn’t always there. Once again it comes down to the Conservatives’ failed austerity project putting lives in danger.